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The Kristine Fitzhugh Case


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Monday, July 23, 2001, 2:45 p.m.

Scientist casts doubt on where Fitzhugh wife died
Kenneth Fitzhugh expected to take stand Tuesday


by Bill D'Agostino

A San Francisco forensic scientist testified this morning in the murder trial against former Southgate resident Kenneth Fitzhugh, saying that he believes Fitzhugh's wife Kristine was assaulted in the basement, not in the kitchen, as the prosecution contends.

Jim Norris, the director of forensic sciences for the San Francisco Police Department, testified that some of the evidence that pointed to the assault having taken place in the kitchen was "unreliable," especially because emergency personnel contaminated the kitchen by tracking blood there after trying to revive Kristine.

Kenneth Fitzhugh is on trial for allegedly killing his wife, a Palo Alto music teacher. The prosecution believes that Fitzhugh killed his wife in the kitchen, but then dragged her body into the basement to make it look like she had fallen.

Fitzhugh is expected to take the stand Tuesday. He is expected to testify that he recently underwent hypnosis which allowed him to remember how bloody shoes and shirt -- later discovered by police -- got into his sport-utility vehicle after the attack. When initially questioned, Fitzhugh said that he was "dumbfounded" how the shirt and shoes got into the vehicle, but Nolan believes that Fitzhugh was so emotionally damaged by seeing his wife's dead body, he repressed the memory.

This morning, Norris, called as a witness by Fitzhugh's attorney Thomas Nolan, testified that there wasn't any blood found between the kitchen and the basement, leading him to believe that the body couldn't have been dragged down the stairs after it had been injured.

In cross-examination, however, Deputy District Attorney Michael Fletcher got Norris to admit that if Kristine's head had been wrapped in laundry, it's "possible" that no blood would have dripped on the floor. Laundry and plastic laundry bags were discovered adjacent to Kristine's body in the basement.

Norris also said that the results that the Palo Alto Police Department obtained using luminol -- a chemical which reacts with blood to create a bright blue glow -- were suspect because there could have been other materials that would have made the floor glow when sprayed with luminol.

Police believe that the luminol showed evidence of a clean up having occurred in the kitchen after the assault.

According to Nolan, the next witnesses for the defense this afternoon will be a blood spatter expert, a cell phone expert to rebuff the prosecution's claim that Fitzhugh was near his home after the assault (and not along U.S. Highway 101 as he had earlier claimed), and two character witnesses.

The hypnotist who helped Fitzhugh remember the events is also expected to testify to the reliability of that memory.

 

 

 

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